Weekly update - why do I try?

Sorry for the update posts - I feel like I have begun to make these here priarily for my own documentation, although hopefully others may find some value within them.

Last night I asked my estranged-withinthe-same-household-ADD-wife for a night (tonight) that we could spend together, working on "us".  She agreed.

I looked forward to it all day, although I admittedly began to feel disappointment as the evening wore on later and later her desire to "go for a walk" and the kid's needs for snacks, entertainment, etc. pushed "our time" further to the back burner.

We EVENTUALLY came together for a glass of wine together on the couch.  Conversation immediately turned to her desire to trade in her vehicle for a newer model, and the thoughts of her coworkers who were in agreement with this idea.

I asked, somewhat rhetorically: "Is this REALLY all we have to talk about?".  I asked this question calmly.

She responded by bringing out the old "list of greivances" she carries in her heart and launched into a tirade of all the wrongs I had done in the past, storming off when I informed her I would not be listening to her ad hominem attacks on me in response to a legitimate inquiry regarding the state of our relationship and my continued (although apparently futile) attempts to either save it or allow it to end in a dignified manner.

As has been her habit, she exited to the back porch.  I gave her 30 seconds and followed, only to find her (AGAIN) in a cloud of cigarette smoke - texting on her phone with a wide smile on her face.  If anyone here has read my prior posts, you will know the significance of this.

I lost my cool, demanding to know WHO she was so eager to text - with such a joyful look on her face.  I was told it was none of my business and she refused to show me - although SHE has been more than happy to take my phone and read MY texts (which were nothing at all!). She went to great physical lengths to remove her phone from my reach.  I asked her again - feeling desperate - and she again refused - mockingly - waving me away condescendingly.  In disgust - I kicked her glass of red wine that was sitting on the porch across the backyard, which felt quite satisfying in the moment but, of course, resulted in immediate accusations of being "out of control" on her part.  Of course, I wasn't "out of control" enough to look after our daughter who woke up with a cold shortly afterward while she continued her manic texting and smoking outside.

Last week I was crying in the garage after a similar frustration.  Tonight I just feel detached.  I DID attempt to reengage her and calmly tell her she was losing a good husband, which resulted in another ad-hominem tirade regarding my past "offenses" and present "inappropriateness" in attempting to speak to her at all.

I just plain and simple DO NOT understand this woman's mind.  Or my own, for that matter.  What am I even trying for?

Pbartender's picture

I've been asking myself the same question lately...

If it makes you feel any better, zombiedad, I am the ADHD spouse in our family, and I'm in much the same situation with my non-ADHD wife.

Whenever I try to make time for my similarly-estranged-within-the-same-houseold-non-ADHD-wife, she finds an excuse not to.  And likewise, whenever a subject more serious than idle, meaningless small talk comes up -- and especially if it refers to any sort of difficulties in or relationship or marriage -- she'll figuratively pick the scabs of old scars.  If I stand up for myself in any way, she quite literally runs and hides.

So, I can sympathize over you feelings of detachment...  I'm feeling not so different about it myself.



I'm glad you posted,

I'm glad you posted, Zombiedad. I was reading your threads on Friday and wondered if you have chosen to go ahead separate. I'm very sorry for your pain. It's palatable as I read your posts. I think your wife is in a place that's untouchable right now. I have a feeling that her "friends" are only egging her on in her self-destructive behavior towards your marriage. Friends are great like that.

I don't have any advice for you. When there is a willful disrespect and disregard for the feelings of your spouse, that's when it is time to draw a line in the sand. The only reason I continue on with my ADHD spouse is the fact that he is genuinely unaware of the times that he disrespects me.

Have you suggested a separation to her? I have a feeling her reaction will be one of anger and disbelief. Maybe remorse eventually. But who knows? You need to take of you and your precious children and not worry about her temper tantrums.

Hang in there. We're here for you.



Another point of view


I looked forward to it all day, although I admittedly began to feel disappointment as the evening wore on later and later her desire to "go for a walk" and the kid's needs for snacks, entertainment, etc. pushed "our time" further to the back burner.

Did you help her to clear up time for you? Did you take care of the kids needs, play with them maybe, so she wouldn't be tired? So she would look at you and think "What a good dad." Did you ask if you could go for a walk with her so you could listen to what SHE wanted to talk about?

We EVENTUALLY came together for a glass of wine together on the couch.  Conversation immediately turned to her desire to trade in her vehicle for a newer model, and the thoughts of her coworkers who were in agreement with this idea.

A glass of wine on the couch.... Sorry, but after not interacting all day long (for whatever reason), I would probably not be open to that glass of wine on the couch either. I would have wanted a day of interaction, not the "romantic" evening of drinking before being pressured for sex at the end of the day. She wanted to talk to you about something important to her that she thought was "neutral" (the car), i.e., that she didn't think would cause a fight. Women just aren't made to "put out" without SOME kind of conversation, even when drunk.

I asked, somewhat rhetorically: "Is this REALLY all we have to talk about?".  I asked this question calmly.

We just LOVE those calm sarcastic looks and questions. Especially if they are accompanied by rolling eyes. Puts us right in the mood to talk dirty.

She responded by bringing out the old "list of greivances" she carries in her heart and launched into a tirade of all the wrongs I had done in the past, storming off when I informed her I would not be listening to her ad hominem attacks on me in response to a legitimate inquiry regarding the state of our relationship and my continued (although apparently futile) attempts to either save it or allow it to end in a dignified manner.

You blew it. Non-ADHD spouses long for that moment they can express their frustration to their spouse and have them listen. And I dare say, she has probably listened to you when you have been "tirading" in the past. However, you responded with a rhetorical (read sarcastic?) comment indicating you were not interested in hearing what she had to say (let's go straight to bed???). However, she pushed through -- wanting to clear the air so she could try to relate to you for the evening, perhaps. Too bad you dismissed her feelings as an "unlegitimate list of grievances" that you would not be listening to. So she stormed off when you wanted to end the discussion (her half anyway) in a "dignified" manner. No wonder she stormed off! I don't agree with her final texting, in an effort to get even probably. But you came across in this paragraph as self righteous, and this paragraph probably reveals more about your relationship than anything else you said.



Great points. He wrote it so

Great points. He wrote it so he sounded like a reasonable spouse and I fell for it, but you saw right through it. I guess I'm so desperate for my husband to pay attention to me (without just sexual intentions) that all I grasped was his looking forward to spending the evening together.  You broke it down clearly and exactly how i feel at home. Now I feel more sorry for his wife. The more I read on these forums the less hopeful I am about having a family with my husband. Why is it so hard for ADHDers to get it?

I WAS only wanting to spend

I WAS only wanting to spend time together.  As I have mentioned, my wife and I are currently NOT being "physical" with each other.

I am simply trying to restart our relationship on the ground level of simply reconnecting on a conversational level.

I am NOT the one with ADD.  SHE is, and despite the havoc it has caused in our marriage I am TRYING to fix things as best I can.

You say "you fell for it?", then "you saw right through it"?  Im sorry, RVMH, but my intention of posting on this forum is not to "fool" people, but to share my experience of being married to an ADD spouse and hopefully to gain insight form the experiences of others.

Certainly less inclined to do so now.

sorry I misunderstood. I

sorry I misunderstood. I thought you were the adhd spouse. I think I need to stop posting. just getting myself in trouble

Don't stop posting Rvmh.

Don't stop posting Rvmh. We're here for support. Well most of us are. But there are others who let their hopelessness and anger spill out all over the place. It's always a good rule of thumb to check a user's post history. There is usually a lot of good story there.

Good luck to you!

Positive ways to spend time together

Here are some ideas for great ways to spend time together:

  • Once you sit down to have a glass of wine, listen to what she finds interesting.  Ask her a few questions.  Understand why she finds it interesting.  Spending time together isn't just for your own benefit...
  • Go for a walk with her - walking calms the ADHD mind and she might be more attentive
  • After she has spoken about her interests (car, whatever) bring up something of interest to you
  • Try not to ask loaded questions, such as "is this all we have to talk about?" which probably didn't come out sounding either inviting or loving

You imply that she's having an affair of some sort.  Perhaps you need to confront her on this if you haven't already.  Emotional is just as bad as physical.  Perhaps a counselor could help you both work through it (again - I admit to not knowing the back story on this and apologize if you've already been through this)

Thanks Melissa, ALL good

Thanks Melissa, ALL good points.  ESPECIALLY the "loaded question" point.

As far as the texting - no affair -  she is leaning heavily upon her old college roommate / BFF / drinking buddy who is herself involved in a disintegrating marriage (affair on her part, porn addiction in her husband's) for  feedback and "support" in our situation.

I'll try again, THIS time remembering your advice.

Thanks again.

Stay and continue your honesty

I am the NON....married to an ADHD husband.  I felt your pain and I wish life were different for us.  I have to admit, I would be viewing the cell phone usage.  That would make me insane.

Seems your thread was immediately misinterpreted, and everyone just ran with it.  

Lynnie,Respectfully, I'm not


Respectfully, I'm not sure you know what you are talking about and I'm not exactly clear on where your aggressive tone is coming from.

I was attempting to express my difficulty in understanding exactly HOW to remain "supportive" and "engaged" to my ADD wife.

I never said ANTHING about "sex" AT ALL.  ZERO expectations for that as our relationship is currently light years away from engaging in such activity again - much less me "pressuring" her for ANYTHING.  Quite presumptive of you to assume such.  There is nothing in my post to indicate that I even had such an intention and I assure you I did NOT.

And yes, I DID help her with the kids, as I do every day.  I cleaned and made them dinner.  As she is in school (for her LATEST career change) I usually do this almost every night as I watch them from the time I pick them up in the afternoon until bedtime.  I am essentially a single parent.


Reply to Z.

I'm sorry if I was unduly aggressive if it was unwarranted. However, I did want to shed light on some possible reasons why your wife may be acting in such a seemingly unreasonable way. 

My comments came from my own relationship. I know I saw/still see drinks at night as attempts to get me drunk in case I could be persuaded to have sex. MY desire for talking was unheeded. Anything I said was said in the wrong way, at the wrong time, or was just plain wrong. My ex also thought my "tirades" at his crazy behavior were unfounded. The last paragraph of my post may be the most important. Because I think any spouse who is frustrated may very well come across as unreasonable. Plus I think ADHDers tend to be defensive about anything that makes them look bad. But if you won't carefully listen to what she has to say (even if you don't care for the tone), that indicates to her that there is ZERO chance for her to get HER needs met. I can feel her frustration in your post.

It's true, your post reminds me of my ex's inability to listen to anything unpleasant about himself. But if the shoe fits, wear it. If not, maybe someone else can wear it.


I'm confused

lynnie70 I am very confused by your response.

He is the non ADHD, and his wife had the ADHD.

The Pink Crow's picture

A little support....

I understand how you feel. I, too, am at a loss for your situation as well as my own. Therein lies the frustration for those of us who love people with ADHD. First for being made so insignificant by the person you love and then realizing that you momentarily allowed yourself to own that label.  If it helps at all, please know that after I read your post I could immediately see there there is nothing insignificant about you. You sound like a good man with a good heart. Whoever she is texting with will, soon enough, be insignificant too. Keep your head up and smile. If it doesn't become contagious around her whereas she may smile back, at least it will be annoying. (giggle)

Um, folks--Zombiedad is not

Um, folks--Zombiedad is not the ADHDer. His wife is. Read his story and you wouldn't be feeling so sorry for his wife. Don't attack someone before knowing the real story.

Lynnie, I don't think he was expecting his wife to put out. He had hoped to spend some time together--so what if it involved drinking a glass of wine? And her bringing up the car situation was not neutral. If you knew his story, you would know that he's working his tailend off so she can go back to school yet again. She stays out all night with her friends quite frequently and often leaves him to deal with the kids.

A lot of folks on here need to take a step back and check the sarcasm and anger. Many of us are choosing to stay in the relationships that we are in. I've seen time and time again where spouses on here have said that they couldn't afford to leave, but still I'm tired of the hatred and animosity. This forum is meant to support each other not attack. Even so there are several ADHDers on here that we could learn a lot from if we'd put down our guns, you know?

Thanks, Dazed. And here I was

Thanks, Dazed.

And here I was ready to take my ball and head on back to the house... :)

I'll admit that I am less-than-objective at times and certainly make my own mistakes (i.e. punting that wine glass) - and I am CERTAINLY open to feedback or even criticism.


OK, I am misunderstanding the post and merely expressing my own lingering resentment about my previous marriage. I do remember some of his previous posts, and they do seem like his wife's behavior is over the top.

Sorry Zombiedad. Your posts are completely outside of my experience if you are not the ADHD spouse. Sorry to be so quick to pass judgement.

An interesting thread


An interesting thread,   sometimes it seems that ADHD in a relationship becomes the only source of focus, ignoring the fact that relationships without have a high incident of divorce as well.  

It is very enlightening that when the presumption is that  it the ADHD spouse posting about issues within their relationship,  blame is  seen as an acceptable and productive response.  Even more enlightening the rush to defence when it is apparent that  a terrible mistake has been made and it is not the ADHD spouse who got a bollocking.   

 As an ADHD person I know where elements of your wife's' reaction came from, but I wonder is it helpful to communicate this?   As in do people actually take this on board or  simply dismiss it as crazy ADHD,  i.e. a condition talking rather that an legitimate perspective of a person?     The reason I ask is that to me a big part of what goes on  is that  Non ADHD spouse frequently delegitimize an ADHD spouse view of the world by calling it all kinds of things,  (crazy, selfish etc)  (like every other post in here) if a person's outlook on life is delegitimized,   then you leave them with nothing. What they are has *no* value. Relationship game over. 

barneyarff's picture

OK, so the non ADHDer might

OK, so the non ADHDer might delegitimize the ADHDers view of the world.  Right?

First of all, when it comes to big picture stuff or driving defensively or "hunting bears"  (a famous CEO with ADHD  called himself a great bear hunter but he needed to hire bear skinners)  I'm all about depending on an ADHDer and applaud their skills.  I can think of 2 particular times that DH was driving and because of absolute stupidity of the other driver we would have been dead except for DH's exceptional driving skills.  Not only have I told him that I've told my kids that---often.

My son who has ADHD,  for the profession he wants to be some ADHD will be good for him.  He'll need it.  But until then if he doesn't get his math done, he'll never get to do what he wants to do.  So, I "delegitimize" an ADHDers view of the world.   I don't think so.  The reality is that my son WILL NOT be allowed to go to the college he needs to go to in order to do what he wants if he does not work on his grades.  He has no learning disabilites and he has a high IQ.   He has an IEP and I work as hard as I can to get him to turn everything in.

I just want my DH to put his mask on so he doesn't snore at night.  For pity's sake, why does his "view" of the world include waking me up "just" 2 or 3 night a week?  It's not the "hunting bears" part that's a problem.  It's the "skinning bears" part that's a problem.  And frankly there are more times one skins bears than hunts them to play out the metaphor to the bitter end.

Plus, I like to "hunt bears" too.   But I'm so busy scrambling after all the details around here I have little energy to go do my own thing.


Hunting bears???

Your posts are often touching but untouchable from my perspective, I have started to respond a few times but then in the end I am not sure what would be gained, I am not sure there is any perspective I could bring to the discussion that would make even the slightest difference.  
You know I have been very close to a circumstance not that dissimilar to yours,     3 months ago my mother died after a very long and painful battle with cancer, my father who is a ADHD to his bootstraps cared for her till the day she died with a tenderness and devotion that was immensely moving to see. In the last few months of her life he barely left her bed side but to fix her something to eat, play some soothing music or get a book to read to her. That is my vastly different perspective of how things may play out, even with ADHD in the mix. 
I also just cannot imagine in my wildest dreams my mother taking all my prospective partners aside and instructing them to run as far away as fast as they could, and cannot conceive that as anything other than cruel.    All that will do is cause your child to hate you, not much happiness to be gained in that for anyone IMHO.
Anyway against my better judgment I ended up responding, so rage away.

And the other thing... that ADHD  can be *good* for us is a totally NoN idea. It sucks, trust me.  

barneyarff's picture

Hi Jon Hopefully my reply to

Hi Jon

Hopefully my reply to you won't disappear into the ether this time.  Of course this repeat performance won't be as "brilliant" as my original post.  @@

Please understand that leaving DH after all he did while I was so sick leaves me feeling so guilty that it tears me apart.  What he did for me was loving and heroic.  I told him so everyday.  I told my doctor I told our friends and family.  They all think he is a god.  So guess who will lose face when I leave.   And for awhile I thought his compassion for me while I was so ill would make up for all the daily bumps and bruises for over 30 years.  What I've come to understand is that while I was so sick, I was interesting again.  He hyperfocused on me.  Now that I'm better, he is drifting off and expecting me to pick up on all the 1000 little things he leaves undone or wants done, etc.  And I don't want to be the clean up person anymore. It still takes all my energy to keep my few ducks in a row and pick up after the kids and dogs.  I do own a business.  Somehow I'm supposed to juggle that ball too.  So, yes, I anguish over leaving after he looked after me so well.  But I don't want to have to pick up after him and finish his projects for him or "help" him remember to put on his mask at night so he doesn't snore.  Remember, I've tried being nice about all of this.  I've tried   "Let's do this together as a team!  WOO HOO!"  It hasn't worked, or I should say it worked on occasion for a short while.

Bill Cosby told a story about how one morning his wife insisted that for once he get out of bed and get the kids ready for school.  He responded by feeding them chocolate cake for breakfast.  Of course she never asked him to get the kids ready again which was his plan.  The audience was laughing.  All I could think was, "you bastard!".   I swear my DH does things half assed so I won't ask him to do them again.  I KNOW his dad did that.  Why should I put up with that?

As for my son.....  I don't see anyone on my side about this but if my son gets serious about someone and won't disclose his ADHD I just can't see how ethically I could withhold that knowledge from the person.  If I had some knowledge about ADHD before marrying DH I could have made a more educated decision and not felt overwrought for so long because I couldn't figure out what was going on.   I am not a "buyer beware" kind of person.  I am more a "full disclosure" type.

And now I need to get back to my list.  I can only concentrate on one thing  for about 15 min at a time or my brain will explode.  But I slowly move through the day with my list varying the types of tasks so I can cope.

Jon, I would just ask for

Jon, I would just ask for some reciprocity and some parity for my nonADHD-spouse position with my husband's ADHD-spouse position.  I can understand that he might do such and such or so and so because he has ADHD and I know that I am not supposed to look down on him for that reason.  Then, it seems to me, my husband should take the time to understand why I do what I do:  because I was born with certain brain wiring that led to certain types of brain functioning and that this, combined with my life experiences, has caused me to react, PREDICTABLY, in certain ways to certain situations.  Instead of this somewhat reciprocal and fair relationship pattern, what I often (definitely not always, but often) read about on this forum is the ADHD spouse's expectation that having ADHD grants the person with the condition a "get out of jail free" card, whereas the non-ADHD spouse is supposed to be perfect:  he or she should not get angry or sad; he or she should take the time to learn about ADHD; he or she should predict how his or her ADHD spouse will respond to certain types of behavior or communication and not act or talk in those ways; and he or she should without complaint do the majority of household chores, particularly the ones that the ADHD spouse does not do.  In contrast, in this view, the ADHD spouse is allowed and in fact expected to be emotionally volatile, to not be able to learn about mental and emotional conditions, to lack the skills to "read" a partner and remember that people might react in a certain way, and to not be biologically capable of learning to make the bed or pay the bills.  

Now, if the ADHD spouse is attempting to deal constructively with his or her condition, that's good.  But a lot of the ADHD spouses and partners who are described on this forum aren't.  And yet their nonADHD spouses and partners are criticized for not knowing how to respond in the perfect, nonjudgmental, helpful way.    

  Rosered,  you are shooting


Rosered,  you are shooting at shadows, unfortunately disabilities just don’t work that way, see the psychologist's fallacy    Ask a hearing impaired person to understand what sound is like, or a person with autism to understand the complexities of human emotions.   You will find a lacking of reciprocity here as well, now ask an ADHD person to define their hopes, dreams, goals and aspirations.    

Secondly “The get out of jail free card” assertion is a moral judgment, what it really means is “you are actually too lazy to address the issues”.   I can’t see how any significant progress is achievable if this is the core assumption.    I also ask does anyone seriously expect the NoN ADHD spouse to be perfect? I can’t say I recall reading that inference on this forum anywhere, though I do stand to be corrected.   I know I don’t expect this, maybe some do, but I can’t say.   

 You have accurately rattled off a number of common behavioural characteristics;   just the fact that these are common in people with ADHD ought to be indicative of itself.   There has been no conspiracy of moral failure, we for the most part really do struggle with our defective neurology, and that is what it ultimately comes down to: does one chose to see ADHD as an excuse for “bad” behaviour or as a legitimate and serious neurological condition that has pervasive life-long implications.    

Seriously, because  the way a lot of NoN’s  talk they see it as ethical failure or one of flawed character,  that is one’s prerogative of course but I am fairly certain I know where thing will end up, and it is not playing happy families.

What I  think is that you can beat up on it till the cows come home,   but to me it would seem to comes down to a  couple of very simple questions:  What is it that you would like to achieve, and  is the way it is going now going to get you to that point?   

If you want for better great, few of us but the most hardened are resigned to where we are, I guess this is why we are on the forum i.e. to improve our lot in life.  Well then that leads to the second question.  Is the current approach it working?  If the answer is no that nothing ever changes then it would seem to me there are very few options, change the approach or decide that you are unable to and leave.  

 I understand your reference to   “Now, if the ADHD spouse is attempting to deal constructively with his or her condition, that's good.  But a lot of the ADHD spouses and partners who are described on this forum aren't.”

But caution to add that those ADHD spouse are not on this forum to defend their position or put their side of the situation.  In the absence of the whole story, allocation of full responsibility for breakdown or failure to the ADHD spouse is a brave call. Things are rarely so simple.     

barneyarff's picture

HEY!  Guess why I'm up!!  Had

HEY!  Guess why I'm up!!  Had to use the bathroom, due to all the "heavy drinking" I've been doing the past 2 days because of a terrible sore throat and ear ache.  Guess who forgot to put his mask on!

I am sleeping on the couch so I'm just shaking my head and laughing.  Can't get back to sleep yet because I've had just enough sleep so I'm not that tired..... damn it.

Anyway, Jon, I had typed out a reply to you because I thought you put things so well. Yes, I know I can be tough to confront.  Believe it or not, I have spent much time and effort not being so intimidating.  I have not controlled it much here because I really need to work through some things.   So I set aside my reply to relook at it, play with it etc.  Finally hit send and it disappeared into the ether!  I will try to reconstruct later.

So, the deaf may not understand sound but they can learn to communicate.  Helen Kellar is the obvious example.

Autistic people don't "get" emotions but they can learn if they see the person they are talking to suddenly has a frowny face, they should check in and see what happened.  (I know this because my neighbor's son has autism on the higher end of the scale and he can figure it out.  Bless his little heart)

I have terrible troubles with spacial problems.  It's easy for me to get lost while driving and origami is some kind of magic to me. Yet I have developed coping mechanisms so I'm not dangerous on the road and I guess I just hire my artistic friends to fold paper for me.  If I got lost everytime I jumped in the car of course DH would eventually get annoyed with me.  It's not rocket science and I KNOW I have a problem so I should do something about it.  It's something my brain just stalls on so I need lots of help to make it around in this modern world and I have done so.     Do I still screw up?  Yup on occasion.  Ask me about the time I got lost even with the GPS, got stopped by the cops and asked if I was trafficking drugs.  I was stunned.  The story gets better with the telling of course, especially in the end where I convinced the cop to lead me out of my confusion to get back down the road where I was supposed to be.   

Yet, all in all, with great effort I have managed to get myself, 2 kids and 2 dogs safely around town. 

But the question remains.... I don't really care if an ADHDer does or doesn't understand, I just want him know how to work around the problem.  And I don't feel a need to understand how streets are plotted out or how a different route might be 2 minutes faster.  I just need to get from here to there without crashing my car.

Ok, I'm tired now.  Back to the couch.  Hopefully this won't disappear, too.

Jon,  I don't consider those

Jon,  I don't consider those things to be moral failures; I do consider them to be symptoms of ADHD.  And they're symptoms that nonADHD people on this site are often told they should be the ones to deal with.  And that can be difficult to do, especially when the ADHD spouse does not take responsibility for dealing with his or her own issues.  I take responsibility for my issues and then I add on dealing with many things that have resulted from my husband's behavior.  That's a pain in the ass to deal with, not because they're moral failures (they're not) but because I'm tired all the time and there is a one-way flow of help and understanding in our relationship, and it ain't in my direction.  

I am not giving full responsibility to the ADHD spouse.  If you're reading my post as doing that, that is your issue, not mine.

  "You have accurately


"You have accurately rattled off a number of common behavioural characteristics;   just the fact that these are common in people with ADHD ought to be indicative of itself.   There has been no conspiracy of moral failure, we for the most part really do struggle with our defective neurology, and that is what it ultimately comes down to:Does one chose to see ADHD as an excuse for 'bad' behaviour or as a legitimate and serious neurological condition that has pervasive life-long implications."    

Jon, I never said there was a conspiracy of moral failure; those are your words and your implication.  Nor did I say that I see ADHD as an "excuse" for "bad" behavior instead of a serious and legitimate neurological condition.  I understand that it is a neurological condition.  (So, to some extent, are anxiety and depression, conditions that I struggle with and for which my husband makes little accommodation.)  My husband, until the last few months, chose to confine his response to his serious neurological condition to the following:  taking a large assortment of psychiatric drugs.  Drugs are fine as far as they go, but they're not sufficient. Now, only in response to my urging, he is once again seeing a psychologist (obtained on a recommendation made by my former therapist).  

I understand how frustrating it must be to live with ADHD.  But it's also frustrating to be the partner of someone with ADHD (and related conditions) and be told, on one day, "You need to help your husband find a therapist" and then a few weeks later, "You shouldn't ask your husband about his therapy" and then "Why didn't you ask me about my therapy?" Or, as another poster commented, being told that if certain tasks are easier for me than for my husband, I should just do them, but if doing so upsets me, I shouldn't do them or that doing them is enabling my husband.  Or being told that marriage is a solemn vow and a serious commitment but if I feel that what I'm doing isn't working, I should leave the relationship but if I leave the relationship, I'm abandoning someone who has a disability, a neurological condition.  

If I did not want to improve my relationship and my life, I would not come to this forum.  I do vent here, I'll admit.  My husband has told me repeatedly that I can talk about things with him, but then when I talk about things with him, he reminds me that me talking about things makes him, in his words, curl up like a terrified bunny rabbit and be unable to respond in a constructive manner.  That's not very conducive to anything, is it? 

barneyarff's picture

OK, so please give me some

OK, so please give me some advice ADHD spouses.

Here is the current problem.  DH noticed several weeks ago that we were almost out of checks.  This is great!  He picked out some checks he thought we would both like.  YEA!!!!!    He hands me the paperwork and says, OK, take care of this.  er..... what?  I just said, "Well you have everything in your hand right now and you know what you want, just go ahead and order them.  It's fine with me.  I think you choose a really nice design."

He got furious with me and left everything on my desk and has done nothing.  A couple of times I asked him if he ordered the checks because I worry about running out and he walks away.  I have not yelled.  I have not nagged.  Nothing.  So, I'm paying bills today.   Remember this is very difficult for me to do right now because the chemotherapy has severely damaged that part of my brain.   I remember our conversation about ordering checks.

So, ADHDers, I feel absolutely trapped and under the thumb of DH and frankly, the "experts" because if I just order them myself, I'm enabling.  If I say anything, I'm nagging and parenting.  If I just run out of checks, I will be yelled at.

See where I feel trapped?  Yet I'm TOLD that I'm the one controlling the relationship.  Forgive me but that seems like utter BS.

barneyarff's picture

So as long as I'm asking for

So as long as I'm asking for advice here is something else.

DH snores and has a C-pap machine (a mask) to wear.  Frankly it's important for his health to wear it but it's important for my health too.

It took me literally years to get him to even go take the test.  I ended up in the guest bedroom for about a year because I could not take the noise.  Even this did not get him to go.

So now he has the mask.  YEA!  But almost every night (I will document it for you if you want me to) I have to put the timer on the TV and ask him to put on his mask.  I have to escilate it to almost yelling to get him to do it and then he growls at me.  Of course it takes me some time to cool off and go back to sleep.

I have tried lovingly holding his hand while taking a walk and telling him how being woken up in the middle of the night several times a week is detrimental to my health and would he please try to figure out a way to get his mask on.  I have asked him what he needs to have happen to so he will put his mask on.  Yes, I've yelled, too.  His latest defense was that I have failed to excel a few times in my business (My book I wrote didn't sell enough for him to quit his job) and him going to the sleep center was harder than me trying to promote a book but because he loves me sooooo much he went way out of his comfort zone to appease me.  (I am not exaggerating his dramatic words).  Of course he's telling me this after I've had tubes in every orifice and coming out my side not being able to get out of bed because I almost died of cancer.  (Sorry to keep bringing this up, but really?  A night at the sleep center is way out of his comfort zone???)

He tells me he can't see the TV with his mask on.  I have suggested he turn it off.  He's told me he almost always puts his mask on and that I'm exaggagerating.  He "only" forgets 2 or 3 times a week.

I would sleep in the guest room but his hoarder tendencies has filled it up to the point where I can't even walk in there.   So, ADHD spouses.... what is left?  What have I missed?   I"m not supposed to nag.  I'm not supposed to parent.  I'm supposed to let him take care of his own stuff in his own fashion.  So, How do I get a full night's sleep?  the only 2 answers I can see are sleep on the couch or move out.  I'm looking for a condo right now.

So, is sleeping on the couch the answer?  While he sleeps on our wonderful Temperpedic.  Ya, that's fair.

MagicSandwich's picture

If you act you're wrong. If

If you act you're wrong. If you don't act, you're wrong.  WRONG! 

No forgiveness needed. It IS utter BS.

The rub

I feel like this is the big rub in saying that ADHDers can't help the way they act: Frequently, not only do they forget, ignore, fail to appreciate, _________ (fill in the blank), but then they turn around and ACCUSE the "normal" person of being the problem for being consistent, making a plan, wanting a clean house, ___________ (fill in the blank).

I have found it helpful lately to avoid being the whipping dog to the crowd of ADHDers that surround me by replying, "People with ADHD make up about 10% of the population. Therefore, while you opinions about MY behavior may make sense to you and about 10% of other people like you, about 90% of the population will tend to agree more with me." It's not exactly true, I realize, but it puts things in perspective. The "nagging, controlling, parental...." traits seen by my ADHDers are perceived as "dependable, honest, independent, self-disciplined" by employers and non-ADHD people who like to depend on me.

I remind them that it is fine for them to like to be so "laid back", if that suits them -- but then they have no right to look around when they get into a mess (that I sometimes have forewarned them about) and ask for me to fix it for them.

ADHDers seem to want it both ways sometimes: Don't tell me what to do, but take care of me.



You're reading too much into all of this. He picked out the pattern, he filled out the paperwork, and he asked if you could send it off. It's teamwork. Pure and simple. Revel in the fact that he noticed the fact that you were out of checks and that he was proactive in taking care of it. Perhaps he knew that if it were left up to him to put the paperwork in the mail, he might forget, but he knew you wouldn't.

There is no need for you to feel trapped by this situation. You have to pick and choose your battles. Mailing off an order form is not one of them.

barneyarff's picture

Forgive me.....  "teamwork"

Forgive me.....  "teamwork" for ordering checks?  He had the paperwork in his hand.  Why in the world do I need to finish the project for him?  Isn't that "enabling"? Is it teamwork or enabling?   If I notice the checks are almost gone, choose the style I want and ask DH if the style is OK, then put the order blank on HIS desk and say, OK, well then do it,  I'd get told by most everyone I know that my behavior was unconsciousable. Why the difference?

 Why in the world can't he just do it?  He's almost done.  (It was all done but the paperwork).  So, while he is in the swing of it, why can't he finish it?  Why do I have to drop what I'm doing, or add it to my plate?  Here is the answer I fear---- because for him filling out a little paperwork is "hard".

Here's what I notice.  It's "teamwork" when the ADHDer wants me finish something.  It's "enabling" when I complain about how I've had to finish a project or it doesn't get done.   Here's an idea.  I will finish all projects I start and my DH will finish all projects he starts.  This includes ordering the darn checks.

My DH is nortorious for planning something or wanting something then waving his hand at me with a "make it so" kind of gesture.  Once again, he got to the end of a project, waved his hand (really he does that) and expects me to finish up.  Nope.  not gonna do it.  Not this time.  It's "just" ordering checks.   Here is my line in the sand.

Checks and ADHD

So it sounds as if your husband does not fully have his ADHD under good enough control to be a reliable partner.  If it is the case that you have one skill set and he has another (say you're good at the final end of a project and he's good at the beginning) it's possible you could work out a system that didn't engender such hard feelings.  But that clearly hasn't been done yet.  It also sounds to me as if you have run out of patience.  So you are egging each other on in your own ways.  If he feels you're mad even when he contributes (i.e. notices and picks out the checks), then after a while he's going to say "I can never be good enough, so why should I try?"  If you feel he's completely incompetent or self-centered, then you get into the trap where you know you need to do something but don't want to "enable" him and get stuck.

I tell ADHD spouses, on occasion, that if they don't take getting their act together seriously, they will live the consequences of that decision.  "No change" is not satisfactory because the status quo is unsatisfactory to their partner - hence all the conversation about ADHD (if they have it under control then ADHD is typically not really part of their conversations.)  You have had a life-changing experience (cancer, obviously) that has made you reconsider how you want to spend your life and time (I also had cancer and it did the same for me).  This self-assessment about what's important is a very good thing - every person should live in a way that nurtures their top priorities and many of us seem to lose track of that in our everyday lives.

I guess the question I would ask you is this - have you sat down with your husband and explained the new status quo?  That the experience of having a life-threatening illness has left you unwilling to be his parent any longer, and that if he is unwilling to better manage his ADHD you will leave him?  I always believe that it is in a couple's best interests to have the opportunity to work through the possibility of separation or divorce together - or at least be both fully informed and have the information internalized.  It is possible that even if you have told him this in so many words he still hasn't internalized the information.  As weird as this sounds, I know that I told my husband how miserable I was for quite a long time and very overtly ("I'm completely miserable in this marriage" being one example) and he still didn't get it for quite a while.  The reason was that he was so used to hearing me complain that he thought it was just more of the same so he wrote it off.  So have a "look me in the eyes and listen to what I'm telling you" type of CALM conversation if you haven't already.  Tell him that you are serious enough about this that you are currently looking for another place to live.

As for your comments about your son - I remain firmly convinced that this is the wrong approach.  I can only hope he (and his girlfriend) ignore you.  Think of what would have happened to Michael Phelps if he and his coaches had listened to all the authority figures (teachers) who told him he would never amount to anything.  Or David Neelman, or James Carville (who flunked out of college - or was it law school?  One of those).  These are people who, with support, overcame their ADHD and thrived.  Your son deserves better than to have the one person who should be behind him no matter what out there trying to sabotage him and telling him (and his partner) that he'll never amount to anything.  How sad.  And it's way over your boundaries to think that it's a good idea to try to steer his relationships with others, even if you label it "full disclosure" in order to justify it to yourself.  It's not your information to disclose, it's his.

barneyarff's picture

Whew!  Thank you Melissa!  

Whew!  Thank you Melissa!   Do you know how very few times I hear any kind of acknowledgment that maybe I have tried very hard.  And now I have concrete information to exactly what I should say.  Thank you.

BTW---I have said almost all of that.  I have taken him to dinner, just the 2 of us, held his hand and said everything except the part about, "and I mean it this time.  I'm looking for a condo"  So, I will take him to dinner again, etc.

And yes, I understand the games that are being played.  I'm trying very hard NOT to play.  It's hard not to question myself after all this long time.  He likes to tell me I'm nuts (I'm not.  I have a certificate and everything!  <BEG>).  I worry so much about not being controlling and being a good helpmate that sometimes I don't know if I'm coming or going.  I don't know anymore if it's teamwork or enabling or Ring-around-the Rosy.

I do know that last weekend when he was gone that the kids and I got along, we got a bunch of stuff done and we giggled.

barneyarff's picture

OK, now about my son.  I love

OK, now about my son.  I love him dearly and I think he is spectacular.  The only time I EVER told him he would not amount to anything was one time I said he had the CHOICE to do with his life as he wished.  If he chose to not do his math he's old enough to stop doing it BUT he would never get to do his life dream.  ( it had been a long day that day and I was tired of providing so much structure.  Surely, I'm not the only one who gets tired),  And it was his life choice.  But he could not come whining to me when he didn't get what he wanted when he was a young adult.

Through everything, I have gotten him extra help, Spent tens of thousands of dollars for him to go to private school and take private flying lessons.  Gone so far to tell him that with what he wants to do, it's a good thing he has some ADHD, he's going to need those skills. no where in there do you see me belittling him because of his ADHD.  I even make sure to find well known people like Michael Phelps and James Carville and probably Einstein and a host of others who have ADHD so I can point them out to show what that kind of energy can achieve.  As Thom Hartmann says, they are the "Bear Hunters".

And no one tells my son he is "bad" because of his ADHD.  My parents tried it-once.

But, as most here have pointed out the day to day grind is taxing sometimes in a spectacular way.  So, unless one has fair warning, and education how is that fair?  Of course I'm trying to teach my son that it is his responsibility to disclose his condition so someone he would consider marrying.  That is the ethical thing to do.  But if he doesn't, I'm just supposed to do nothing?  really?

::::shaking head::::


To tell or not to tell is a

To tell or not to tell is a big issue, in two ways.  One is the general issue of whether a parent should tell a potential daughter-in-law or son-in-law about the son's or daughter's health.  I think that I would recommend that the son or the daughter be the one to do the disclosing.  But whether to disclose at all?  That's not even a close question for me.  If a person has a health condition or a disability, I think that he or she has a duty to tell a potential spouse about the condition or disability, and before the couple becomes engaged.  Not only will the condition or disability likely affect the relationship, but also it might be inheritable, and people contemplating having children need to be open and honest about their medical and genetic histories.


I should have read the entire thread before I replied to lynnie70.  

I was getting so confused.


I admit I don't know all the background here, but have you simply checked your phone bill for an unknown number she's calling a lot?  Chances are good if she's texting she may also be talking.  Might resolve some questions for you.

Don't stop

Please don't stop writing your posts, I personally think they are sincere constructive way to share a nonADD perspective. 

I totally can relate to your situation in so many levels. I just wish that in here people would hold on on criticism, I think we are all here to pour out some of our frustration and deception because sometimes there just no where else to go or share our story in a way that some many people will relate to.

If you haven't done so, it is definitely time to check the phone bill record. And if she does check on your phone and text I think you have the same right to do so on her phone. 

I hope your week is going well.

take care.

Don't stop

Sorry duplicated message, still trying to figure it out how to erase it.